Muhammad bin Qasim

Vol 3- Issue 4 Muhammad Bin QasimMuhammad bin Qasim was a Syrian Arab born in 695 AC. His father died, when he was young, leaving Qasim’s mother in charge of his education. The Umayyad Governor Al-Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, a close relative of Qasim, was instrumental in teaching Qasim about warfare and governing.

In 712 AC, at the age of seventeen, he was sent by Hajjaj Bin Yusuf on the orders of Caliph Al-Walid to lead an army towards India, into a powerful state known today as the Sind and Punjab areas of Pakistan. Raja Dahir, the ruler of this state, was very arrogant and unjust. He had given shelter to a number of rebels against Islam and the Caliph. His army looted Muslim traders and took into custody their children and women. In the past, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus had sent two expeditions to rid the people of this tyrant. But both times the expeditions had failed, and Raja Dahir’s atrocities continued to increase.

Muhammad Bin Qasim’s army of six thousand men was small, whereas the opposing army consisted of more than a hundred thousand men fully equipped with war elephants and an array of excellent archers. Raja Dahir’s usual tactics were to shut himself inside the invincible walls of Daybul, the capital city, and let the enemy exhaust itself and retreat, once all its arms and ammunitions were depleted.

Muhammad Bin Qasim and his army fought hard against all odds and within a short time managed to win eleven battles. They had two unique weapons of that time – a huge catapult and a fire ball. The former rained stones, while the latter fired on the enemy. The Muslim victory at Daybul is ascribed to the giant catapult named Uroos. A stone hurled by Uroos brought down the flag flying atop the biggest temple in the city. The besieged considered this to be a bad omen, came out into the open, and were captured by Qasim’s army.

After capturing Daybul, Muhammad Bin Qasim marched on and conquered numerous parts of the sub-continent, hence purging it of many Hindu tyrants and oppressors. He then proved his administrative skills by being a wise and just ruler for that state for almost two years. He was admired by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

After the death of Caliph Al-Walid, Muhammad Bin Qasim was called back by the new Caliph to Baghdad. The new Caliph was a cruel man, who became known for his harsh treatment of many famous Muslim generals and honorable persons, on the basis of personal enmity. He falsely accused Muhammad Bin Qasim of treason and put him in jail, where he was severely tortured, until he passed away at the age of twenty.

The success of the Muslim army was due to Muhammad Bin Qasim’s superior military leadership. The foundation of an Islamic State in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent was laid by this youngest conqueror in the world. His death was a great loss for all Muslims. He was greatly respected for his courage, determination, war tactics, and discipline. He was equally successful both in active warfare and in the times of peace.

Till today, Muhammad Bin Qasim is remembered and praised for the military exploits against the most formidable forces of the sub-continent. His victories form the golden chapters of the warfare history.

Imam Bukhari

Vol 3- Issue 3 Iman BukhariAs a child, he had memorized over seventy thousand Ahadeeth without the aid of pen or paper; such was the fame of the young Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari.

Allah (swt) had blessed him with an amazing memory; the greatest evidence of this is his book of Ahadeeth an-Nabawi, commonly known as Sahih Al-Bukhari. It is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Holy Quran.

Born in Bukhara (present day Uzbekistan), his father passed away during his infancy. Imam Bukhari became blind at a young age; it was his mother’s entreaties to Allah (swt), which led to the restoration of his eyesight. She then set him in the direction of attaining knowledge, which would benefit him and the rest of the world even today.

After acquiring his elementary education at the age of ten, Al-Bukhari obtained admission in the Hadeeth class of Bukhara. A year later, he had such a good retention of the text and chains of transmission of Ahadeeth that sometimes teachers got their corrections from him!

At the age of sixteen, he had memorized the books of learned companions of Imam Abu Haneefah. Then at eighteen, he visited Makkah for further education and later travelled to cities far and wide for the transmission of Ahadeeth. He gained immense knowledge.

Hashid ibn Ismail states: “Imam Bukhari used to go with us to the scholars of Basra to listen to Ahadeeth. All of us used to write Ahadeeth down, except Imam Bukhari. After sixteen days, we thought about it and we condemned Imam Bukhari saying that he had wasted so many days work by not writing down Ahadeeth. Imam Bukhari asked us to bring our notes to him. So we all brought our notes, upon which Imam Bukhari began to read Ahadeeth one by one from the top of his head, until he narrated to us more than fifteen thousand! Hearing these, it seemed that Imam Bukhari was re-teaching us all of the Ahadeeth we had noted.”

His own students bore witness that Al-Bukhari would wake up around twenty times every night to mark Ahadeeth. Furthermore, he would perform Salaat-ul-Istikara before recording each Hadeeth.

People would flock to the Masjid in Basra to learn from this Sheikh, who was often found in humble prayer. Yet, he remained a simple and hard working person. He fulfilled his needs himself and even laid bricks to construct an inn near Bukhara, hoping that: “On the Day of Judgment, this act will be of benefit to me.”

Imam Bukhari’s generosity extended beyond sharing knowledge. He often gave vast sums of money as Sadaqah and would spend his entire month’s earnings on his students.  He also avoided backbiting and suspicion and once said: “I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never backbite.”

Imam Bukhari died on the night of Eid-ul-Fitr 256 AH. He was around 62 years old. A scholar, worshipper, and a prosperous man, he always feared Allah and shone with the love of the Messenger (sa). From Salah to fasting, the Muslim Ummah realizes, how indebted it is to Imam Bukhari for furnishing us with the necessary details of going about our daily acts of worship. He compiled and circulated the Ahadeeth of the Prophet (sa) wherever possible and Allah (swt) spread his status to every corner of the world.

Salahuddin Ayyubi

Vol 3-Issue 2  Salahuddin AyyubiThe name of Salahuddin Ayyubi, also known as Saladin in the West, stirs up memories of Muslim valour, decency, and zeal to serve Allah (swt).

Salahuddin Yusuf Ibn Ayyub, was born in 1137/38 C.E. in Tikrit, Iraq, in a Kurdish family. Upon his birth, his father, Najm-ad-Din Ayyub, moved the family to Balabak, Lebanon. Here he took employment with Imad-ad-Din Zangi, the Turkish governor of northern Syria.

Salahuddin’s interest in learning the art of warfare began, when he joined his uncle, Asad-ad-Din Shirkuh, in military expeditions into Egypt to protect it against the Latin-Christians (Franks). Shirkuh was a military commander of Nureddin, who was also the son and successor of Zangi. After his death, Salahuddin became the commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fatimid Caliphate.

In 1171, he abolished the unpopular Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. For some time, Salahuddin represented Nureddin in Egypt, but upon the latter’s death in 1174, he declared himself Sultan. He ruled with a firm but just hand, brought an end to the corruption in the government ranks, and made many strides in developing the economy and public welfare.

The Spanish Muslim traveller Ibn Jubayr, in his travelogue describes a hospital that Salahuddin established in Cairo. It housed hundreds of beds for patients and a separate ward for female patients. There was a section of the hospital, with high walls, which was reserved for mental patients. The Sultan himself took keen interest in the management of the hospital and visited it often. He also built a big hospital in Alexandria, established colleges and mosques, and encouraged scholars to write on Islamic topics.

Salahuddin was a true believer in pursuing Jihad against the crusaders. Employing diplomatic tactics and a disciplined army, he first united the Muslim lands of Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, where there had been infighting and useless rivalry among Muslims.

Having thus strengthened his forces, Salahuddin commenced Jihad against the crusaders. On July 4, 1187, he fought them at Hittin, near Tiberias in northern Palestine. The crusaders suffered huge failures and losses; and the Muslims gained almost the entire Kingdom of Jerusalem. Within three months, areas including Acre, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth, Nabulus, Jaffa, and Ascalon (Ashqelon) were also conquered. But the high point of his military endeavours was achieved on October 2, 1187, when Jerusalem surrendered to Salahuddin’s army after 88 years of the Franks’ rule.

The Christian conquerors ruthlessly massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem upon entering the city. Salahuddin’s and his army’s compassion and courtesy towards the city’s population on this occasion is recognized and applauded by Muslims and Non-Muslims up to this day.

After their defeat, the Christians gathered again to launch the Third Crusade (1189-1192), in which Salahuddin’s forces met those of King Richard I of England. In 1192, an agreement was made that allowed the crusaders to form their kingdom only along the Palestinian-Syrian coast, leaving Jerusalem under Muslim control. Salahuddin then returned to his capital, Damascus.
On March 4, 1193, Salahuddin died in Damascus after a short illness. Ibn Shaddad, one of his close companions relates: “In faith and practice, the Sultan was a devout Muslim, ever conforming to the tenets of Islam … he also performed the voluntary prayers during the night.” At the time of his death, he possessed only one dinar and 47 dirhams, not enough to cover even his burial expenses.

The Ayyubid dynasty founded by Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi continued to rule over Egypt and adjoining lands until the Mamluks took power in 1250 C.E.

Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi

Vol 3- Issue1  Abul Qasim Al-ZahrawiAround 940 AD, during the Andalusian Umayyad reign, one of the greatest pioneers of surgery was born – Abul Qasim Khalaf Ibn Al Abbas Al-Zahrawi. European sources referred to Al-Zahrawi as Alzahawi, Ezzahrawi, Zahravius, Aicaravi, Alsahrawi, and even Abulcases, Bulcasis, and Bulcasim, which are derived from his first name.

Little is known about the early life of Al-Zahrawi, probably because his native city El-Zahra was destroyed before his death, in 1011. Nevertheless, he is widely accredited for his role in the field of medicine.

The first known biography of Al-Zahrawi was written approximately 60 years after his death by Andalusian scholar Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm (993-1064), in his book “Jadhwat Al-Muqtabis.” Translated asOn Andalusian Servants,” it mentions Al-Zahrawi as the most prominent physician and surgeon during Umayyad Spain.

“At-Tasrif liman Ajiza ‘an At-Ta’lif” is the remarkable medical encyclopedia written by Al-Zahrawi. Translated as “The Method of Medicine,” and called “At-Tasrif” for short, it is considered a masterpiece in medical research. It consists of 30 large volumes; a result of approximately 50 years of commitment to the advancement of medicine, particularly the field of surgery. It is also good source for learning more about Al-Zahrawi’s methods, life and personality.

“At-Tasrif” includes various topics, such as surgery, ophthalmology, pharmacology, nutrition, obstetrics, maternal and child health, and the anatomy and physiology of the human body. His clinical methods encouraged the careful examination of each case individually and advised against following books word for word, in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The largest section in “At-Tasrif” is solely about surgery. It is regarded as the first Arabic work to deal with the topic extensively. Al-Zahrawi provided illustrations and explanations of the use of about 200 surgical instruments, most of which were invented by him. Noteworthy examples include an apparatus for removing foreign objects from the throat, a device for the internal examination of the ear, and another for the internal inspection of the urethra.

Moreover, Al-Zahrawi is regarded as the earliest leading plastic surgeon, as numerous surgeries he had performed would be defined as forms of plastic surgery today. He also excelled in the field of dentistry; his encyclopedia included a description of many dental operations, a discussion about the problem of deformed teeth and how to fix these defects. He also developed the technique of preparing artificial teeth.

Al-Zahrawi emphasized the significance of a good relationship between the doctor and his patients, highlighting the importance of winning their trust and ensuring their wellbeing, regardless of their social status. He also enjoyed sharing his knowledge with his students, whom he called “my children.” Thus, being a respectable, humane, and honest individual, Al-Zahrawi was appointed the personal physician of King Al-Hakam II of Spain.

The Western world was introduced to Al-Zahrawi with the translation of his work, the first being in Latin by Gerard of Cremona. Along with Ibn Sina’s “the Canon,” Al-Zahrawi’s book was widely used as a medical text in the universities of Europe from the 12th to the 17th Centuries. He also influenced the field of surgery; for example, the French surgeon Guy de Chauliac quoted “At-Tasrif” more than 200 times in his book “Great Surgery” (1363).

Al-Zahrawi’s influence is still felt today as many modern medical methods find their roots in “At-Tasrif.” Al-Zahrawi’s efforts and dedication have surely paid off, as they have benefited the Islamic empire during his time and greatly contributed towards the advancement of medicine.

Tipu Sultan

Hafsa Ahsan lifts up our spirits with an account of a Muslim leader, popularly known as the Tiger King.

In the wake of the current state of Muslim rulers, who succumb easily to their enemies, the life of Tipu Sultan stands as a shining example of a ruler, who chose martyrdom instead of defeat.

Fatah Ali Tipu was born on December 10, 1750, at Devanhalli, Saringapattam. His father was Sultan Haider Ali of Mysore.

He was trained in the art of warfare at a young age – specifically, fencing, sword fighting, and the use of the firearms. He also had a passion for learning, and his personal library comprised of more than 2,000 books in various languages.

Tipu Sultan earned the title of the ‘Tiger King’ as a result of a hunting experience, when he threw his sword and instantly killed a tiger that sprang up in front of his and his French guest’s horse.

In 1782, when Sultan Haider Ali was killed, Tipu Sultan took over the kingdom of Mysore. He proved to be an ideal and benevolent ruler. He treated his non-Muslim subjects justly. He took on many projects, such as the building of dams in order to facilitate agriculture. He built roads to improve the physical infrastructure. In addition, he improved the industrial infrastructure by introducing many new industries. Under his rule, he promoted trade and commerce on a large scale.

When the British came for trade in India, Tipu Sultan foresaw their aim to colonize the country. Hence, driving the British out of the subcontinent became his major aim. Realizing that they could not carry out their ulterior motives with him in power, the British allied with Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marhattas. What ensued were quite a few Anglo-Mysore battles, in which the army of Tipu Sultan fought against the British allied forces.

However, the British still couldn’t defeat Tipu Sultan, so they took help from two main traitors in the Sultan’s camp – Purnia, the military commander, and Mir Sadiq, the Prime Minister. During the fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1798, these two traitors played a major part in aiding the British troops to enter the capital city, without the knowledge of the Sultan.

When Tipu Sultan heard the news, he marched out of the fort with his small army. But Mir Sadiq prevented him by closing the gates of the fort. Fortunately, one of the Sultan’s loyal soldiers managed to kill Mir Sadiq. At the heat of the battle, Purnia suddenly ordered all the troops to go back to the barracks, thus clearing the enemy’s way. British troops started entering the fort. Tipu Sultan ordered for the gates to be opened, but the gatekeeper refused to take the order.

The Sultan was ordered to surrender and sign a peace treaty with the British. To this, Tipu Sultan replied: “A day’s life of a tiger is better than a hundred years of a jackal.” He then plunged into the enemy ranks with swords in both hands. He killed scores of them. Even when his mare was shot, he continued to fight on foot till he embraced martyrdom. Even today, Tipu Sultan’s statement is widely quoted in history textbooks, his name stands out among those, who chose to fight rather than surrender.

Sheikh Ahmad Deedat

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Sheikh Ahmad DeedatFamed Muslim preacher and debater Sheikh Ahmed Deedat died Monday, August 8, 2005, at 87, leaving behind a legacy of propagating Islam and defending it against missionaries. Known particularly for his work on comparative religions, Deedat was the founder of the Islamic Propagation Center International (IPCI), the largest Islamic Dawah organization in the world.

He was perceptive, fiery, and daring, with an insight of the Bible that made many Christians whom he came into contact with re-examine their faith.

From working in a shop in a remote area of KwaZulu Natal, to debating the famous American reverend, Jimmy Swaggart in the USA – the story of Ahmed Deedat is amazing.

Born in Surat, India, in 1918, Ahmed Hoosen Deedat had no recollection of his father until 1926. His father, a tailor, had immigrated to South Africa shortly after the birth of Deedat. The son went to South Africa in 1927 to be with his father. His mother passed away a few months later, back in India.

In a foreign land, not knowing the English language, his passion for reading helped him gain promotions until he completed standard 6. Lack of finance interrupted his schooling and at the age of about 16 he took on the first of many jobs in retailing.

The most significant of these was in 1936 when he worked at a Muslim-owned store near a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast. The incessant insults of the trainee missionaries hurled against Islam during their brief visit to the store infused a stubborn flame of desire within the young man to counteract their false propaganda.

Ahmed Deedat, by God’s will, discovered a book entitled “Izharul-Haq”, meaning the truth revealed. This book recorded the techniques and the enormous success of the effort of Muslims in India in turning the tables against Christian missionary harassment during the British rule of India. In particular, the idea of holding debates had a profound effect on Ahmed Deedat.

Armed with this newfound zeal, Deedat purchased his first Bible and began holding debate and discussions with the trainee missionaries. He published over 30 books and distributed millions of copies free of charge. He delivered thousands of lectures all over the world and successfully engaged Christian Evangelists in public debates. Several thousand people have come into the fold of Islam as a result of these efforts.

The first opportunity to go abroad arose in 1976, when a good friend, Ebrahim Jadwat, travelled to Riyadh for a conference.

“When I asked the people from Saudi television to interview him, they laughed at me, saying that they had 50 or 60 of the greatest scholars from all over the world, so why should they interview him?” recalls Jadwat. “So I said: ‘Give him two minutes of your time and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.’ So they humored me and gave him the opportunity to come on television.” The rest, as they say, is history…

Sheikh Deedat with his entertaining approach, dynamic personality, deep knowledge of Christianity and unique ideas, swept the Arab world off its feet. Going to Riyadh opened many doors for him, and his dream of printing and distributing the Qur’an and other literature soon become a reality. He was awarded the King Faisal International Award in 1989.

On May 3, 1996, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke, known as “lock in syndrome,” which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was no longer able to speak or swallow. He delivered his last lecture in Sydney, Australia, in 1996, just before his chronic illness.

Yusuf Bin Tashfin

Tasneem Vali tells the story of Yusuf Bin Tashfin – a Moravid king of Northern Africa, who “saved Muslims from themselves”

Al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain, has its heroes and so do the throes of history. However, there are also lesser-known heroes – those, who neither conquered foreign lands nor established Islam there, but saved Muslims from themselves. These are the heroes we need to discuss and emulate, if Islam is to achieve a global recognition again. This is the story of Yusuf Bin Tashfin, a Moravid king of Northern Africa, who ruled around 479 A.H. (1086 C.E.).

It was almost 350 years since Tariq Bin Ziyad had conquered Spain (Andalus) and secured Islam as the religion there. Under Muslim rule, Spain was the seat of learning and culture. Mediterranean trade flourished, and Spain became a haven for enlightenment and renaissance. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa, including knowledge about mathematics, science, and philosophy. They created a state that reflected the Muslim way of life and thirst for scientific knowledge.

During this time, Andalus was a centrally governed Muslim state, reflecting the Islamic tradition. After an initial period of affluence, the Muslim Spain became fragmented into smaller kingdoms (Taifas), which continuously fought amongst themselves. The most important of these were Córdoba, Seville, Granada, Toledo, Lisbon, Zaragoza, Murcia, and Valencia. The Taifas were ruled by thoughtless rulers, who fought amongst themselves and thus plunged their populations into debt.

The Christian ruler of Castile, Alfonso VI, saw this as a window of opportunity and seized it. He started collecting taxes from the smaller Muslim kingdoms. Soon, the Muslim population was suffering from lack of daily necessities. Meanwhile, the rulers were indulging in every imaginable vice.

In response to this injustice, a delegation from the suffering lands went to see Yusuf Bin Tashfin. This delegation included Ulema, philosophers, and prominent citizens. Yusuf could not ignore the plea of his brethren. After consulting his Ulema, Yusuf issued a public call to join his army for defending Spain from Alfonso VI.

Since Yusuf had only five hundred ships for sending his troops of 16,000, they proceeded in stages, landing on the shores of Seville, which was governed by a Muslim ruler Mutamid. The troops were greeted with pomp and glory, and soon Yusuf began planning his attack. He did not partake in the extravagant feast laid out in his honour; instead, he prayed to Allah (swt) for victory. Together with their Spanish counterparts, the numbers of Yusuf’s army reached 20,000 only.

On the hills of Zallaka, the armies faced each other. Being a true follower of Islam, Yusuf invited Alfonso to accept Islam as his religion or pay Jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims in a Muslim state for granting them protection). The irony is that Alfonso refused and asked Yusuf to pay Jizya instead!

Yusuf possessed a keen military mind. He hid the African troops on a hill behind the barricades and faced Alfonso with only three thousand soldiers. The plan was that when Alfonso’s troops would cut through the Muslim ranks, the reinforcements would charge down the hill, trapping the Christians in between. The plan worked and Alfonso was defeated. Thus, the Muslim rule in Spain was ensured for another four hundred years.

It is easy to conquer, vanquish or defeat, but it is much harder to settle, establish, and maintain. Let’s follow Yusuf Bin Tashfin – let’s all take steps to re-establish Islam as a part of our lives.

Ibn Khaldun

Rym Aoudia tells us about a Muslim thinker whose thoughts still echo today.

“The goal of civilization is a settled life and the achievement of luxury. But there is a limit that cannot be overstepped. When prosperity and luxury come to a people, they are followed by excessive consumption and extravagance. With that the human soul itself is undermined, both in its worldly wealth and its spiritual life.”

Ibn Khaldun’s quotation makes us appreciate Ibn Khaldun as a thinker who could take a complicated phenomenon, in this case the rise of civilization, and analyze it succinctly and clearly for his readers.

Ibn Khaldun’s full name is Abd Ar-Rahman Ibn Mohammed Ibn Khaldun. He was born in Tunisia on May 27, 1332 C.E. to parents of Yemeni origin. Prior to living in Tunisia, his parents lived in Spain. His family was generally one of politicians and scholars, which developed in Ibn Khaldun an ambitious desire to excel in both fields. In Tunisia, Ibn Khaldun received a fine education, where he became knowledgeable in different subjects and memorized the entire Quran. From a young age, he was active in public service aspiring towards a political career.

In his quest for knowledge, Ibn Khaldun decided to immigrate to Fez in Morocco because political rivalries affected the stability of his career. While on his way to Fez he sought refuge in a small village in Algeria, where he stayed three years. It was during this time that he wrote the first volume about world history, Muqaddimah (Prolegomena) in which he aimed at analyzing historical events. It was with this book that Ibn Khaldun established himself as an eminent scholar, earning the interest and respect of historians, sociologists, and philosophers alike.

The political situation was the reason behind Ibn Khaldun’s unstable career as well as his move to Egypt. He made Egypt his permanent home. These 24 years in Egypt were that of prominence and deference. He was appointed as the Chief Malakite Judge and lectured at Al-Azhar University.

Generally speaking, Ibn Khaldun’s main contribution lies in the philosophy of history and sociology. Unlike previous writers, his interpretation of history was not merely based on political aspects, but also on environmental, sociological, psychological, and economic factors. Ibn Khaldun innovatively analyzed group relationships and identified their role in the rise of a new civilization. He also identified the concept of ‘rise’ and ‘fall’ in human civilization and analyzed its contributing factors.

In addition to the volume of Muqaddimah, his other volume, Kitab Al-I’bar, dealt with the history of Arabs, contemporary Muslim rulers, European rulers, Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Islamic history, North African history, and so forth. Al-Tasrif was his last volume, which was mainly about his life.

With his volumes, Ibn Khaldun is credited to have revolutionized the science of history and set the foundation of sociology. With Al-Tasrif, he initiated a new analytical form of autobiographical writing.

Ibn Khaldun is undoubtedly a prominent social scientist and thinker of profound insight. His writings stand as proof of his brilliance. They have stood the test of time for they are still available for us to read and contemplate today. Surely, Ibn Khaldun is a Muslim whose writings of the past have served the future.

Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi

Amena Shahrukh Lali recounts the dynamic life of a great Muslim conqueror who opened many lands and brought Islam to their people

Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi was born in 361 AH in Ghaznah southwest of Kabul. His forefathers were Turkish, and his father was a very powerful leader of Ghaznah. Since his childhood, Sultan was a very strong person and as he grew old Allah blessed him with handsome looks too. He was a gifted speaker. Though he didn’t understand the Arabic language, he was well versed in the laws of Islam. He loved poetry, astronomy and math, and would encourage others to learn.

As a leader, Mahmood showed such great capabilities that the whole province of Khurasan rallied under his leadership and his rule extended to Azerbaijan. At the age of 27 he announced his claim to the throne of Afghanistan, when his brother Ismael also announced his claim to be king from the city of Balkh. Mahmood defeated his brother in Ghazni.

The most commendable act of Sultan was his love for Jihad. Every year he would set out to conquer new lands, heading always towards India. Sultan defeated Jeebel the King of Kabulistan, captured Punjab, Tanseer, Kashmir and Qanoch. By 1017 Aliak Khan, an ally of Sultan Mahmood invaded Hirat and Balkh. This was out of the ordinary because Sultan Mahmood was married to his daughter. So, Sultan gathered a powerful force of fifty thousand warriors and attacked the Khan’s army and defeated them. By 1024, Allah granted Sultan such power that he crossed the Amu River.

One day, news reached him that the Indian people believed that the great idol Suminat brings destructions and peace to their land, and gives life and causes death to them. They also use to make pilgrimage to him. They had accumulated wealth to the point that 10,000 villages were counted as a part of its endowment and thousands of Brahama men were at its service.

Nevertheless Sultan set out to destroy the idol after making Istikhara (asking Allah for guidance in his decision). He left at the head of thirty thousand cavalries and a great number of infantry and volunteers. When the Indians saw the determination of Sultan they offered him a great amount of money. Sultan said: “I have thought about the matter, and I see that when the Day of Judgement comes, I would rather be called ‘Where is Mahmood who destroyed the idol?’ than ‘Where is Mahmood who spared the idol for the wealth of this world?'”

He took his sword and went in. The idol was adorned with gold and rare jewellery that were beyond description. With a mighty blow it fell, broken to pieces. Sultan took the gold and jewellery, and distributed it among his commanders and soldiers. He returned to Ghaznah in Safar 417 AH.

Sultan Mahmood was also among the earlier pious kings. His interest in knowledge had drawn him close to the scholars, as he was known to love hearing the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) being recited to him.

Sultan Mahmood only praised Islam due to its pureness. During Sultan’s reign universities of math, religious studies, humanities and medicine were formed and they used to function only under the law of Shariah. For the first time ever, this region was under one rule, one religion and one language.

In 1030 (421 AH), Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi fell gravely ill and died at the age of fifty-nine. His grave is in Ghaznah.

Ibn Battuta

Rym Aoudia, brings to us the life of the brave Muslim traveler, who visited of what corresponds to 44 countries in our times

“(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who go out (or travel, in Allah’s cause)…” (At-Taubah 9:112)

Islam insists on the importance of learning and contemplating about Allah’s creation. For Ibn Battuta, traveling was an experience that allowed him to do so. It was an opportunity to gain knowledge, observe nature, and understand different societies. As he traveled vast lands and crossed seas, Ibn Battuta became the greatest traveler of the 14th century and is regarded as an equivalent to Marco Polo. With approximately 75,000 miles traveled, he far exceeded Marco Polo in the distance journeyed.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad-Din, was born into a rich family in Tangier Morocco on February 24th 1304 C.E. His aim was to become a judge. After his studies, he left Morocco to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. This was a summer day on June 14th, which marked the beginning of his journeys. He was only 21 years old at that time. Even though his main reason to travel was to perform Hajj, he developed a passion to travel. This passion led to his adventurous travels that lasted for 30 years. During this period he frequently went back to Mecca to perform Hajj.

Back then, traveling was not safe by land and sea. Ibn Battuta first traveled alone on land by riding a donkey. He then joined a caravan with other pilgrims and traders for protection. Some walked, others rode horses, mules, donkeys, or camels. By the time they reached Cairo, Egypt, the caravan had several thousand members. He also traveled by horse, camel, and sailboat.

Ibn Battuta visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time like Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. He also traveled to Sri Lanka, China, and South Russia. He stayed in India for several years and was appointed as the ambassador to the Emperor of China. These countries were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders. During these travels, he had the opportunity to gain religious and legislative knowledge and to meet Muslim scholars.

After thirty years of traveling, he returned to Fez, Morocco. At the court of Sultan Abu Inan, he dictated accounts of his journey to Ibn Jazay al-Kalbi. These accounts are known as the famous travels, or Rihla, of Ibn Battuta. The travel accounts were completed in three months. Nowadays, one can read a translation of his travels in English.

One can greatly learn about society in Ibn Battuta’s time through his travels. For instance, from his accounts of the sea voyages and references to shipping, one notices how Muslims completely dominated the naval movement of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Chinese waters. One also observes how a mutual respect existed between the Muslims and Christians. Even though the Christian traders underwent certain restrictions, most of the financial negotiations were carried out on the basis of equality.

He was a careful observer of the societies he visited. He paid close attention to people’s dress and architecture. He also observed their social customs, rituals, governmental organization, and local attitudes. Literary scholars are fascinated with his role as an early example for travel literature.

In Fez in 1364 C.E, Ibn Battuta passed away. His historic travel accounts that transcend time still contribute to society and continue to be a source of learning.

Ibn Sina

Rym Aoudia sheds light on the life and accomplishments of a pioneer in early research and medicine 

The great Muslim physician and philosopher Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E) is known as Avicenna in the West, which is the Europeanized Hebrew translation of his name (Aven Sina). He was born in a village near Bukhara, now Uzbekistan. His native language was Persian, and his father had him very carefully educated. He was an intelligent child, and by the age of ten, he had memorized the Noble Quran and was highly knowledgeable in the Arabic language. For six years, he had dedicated his time to the study of Muslim jurisprudence, philosophy, natural science, logic, geometry, and advanced mathematics. He also focused greatly on the study of medicine, and by the age of seventeen, he became a well-known physician and came to be known as the, “doctor of doctors”.

Being a famous physician, Ibn Sina had the opportunity to cure many important people. As a seventeen year old, he cured Nooh ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhara, of an illness that puzzled many renowned physicians. In return, he was allowed to make use of the king’s distinctive library. He also treated Shams al-Dawlah, the king of Hamadan, from a severe colic.

With his father’s death, Ibn Sina had to support himself and therefore traveled to Jurjaniyah and offered his services to the Khawarzmian dynasty. Meanwhile, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna demanded Ibn Sina’s attendance in his own court. Ibn Sina decided to escape instead, and went to Gurgan (Turkmenistan) and then to Jurjan (Iran). Afterwards, he journeyed to Ray (Iran) and began his service with Prince Shams al-Dawlah.

In Ray, Ibn Sina achieved a position as a vizier. This position displeased the military and made Ibn Sina go into exile once again.  When Shams al-Dawlah became sick, he called on Ibn Sina to cure him.  After curing the Prince, he held his position again as a vizier. Later on he served Prince Ala al-Dawla in Iran. Fifteen years after serving him, Ibn Sina decided to journey back to Hamadan (Iran).  Ibn Sina died in this journey, and is now buried in Hamadan

Despite the positions held in royal courts, Ibn Sina continued seeking knowledge and writing books. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book “al-Qanun fil al-Tib”, known as the Canon of Medicine in the West. The book is an immense encyclopedia of medicine extending over a million words. “al-Qanun fil al-Tib” consists of five books.  For seven centuries, the Canon served as a vital source in medical teaching and practice.

Another great work is “Kitab al-Shifa”, the Book of Healing, which is a philosophical encyclopedia. The book consists of 20 volumes, and it is the longest treatise on philosophy ever written by a single man.  He also had other philosophical works, such as, “al-Najat” and “Isharat”.

Not only was Ibn Sina an eminent physician and philosopher, he was also a great poet and was politically active. He wrote books on mathematics, astronomy, psychology, geology, and logic. With all these accomplishments, Ibn Sina had to work hard and was known to greatly exhaust himself.  He was therefore advised to lead a moderate life. Yet, he simply replied, “I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length.”

Even though he died at the early age of fifty seven, he left behind many momentous books.  Some sources attribute more than a hundred books to Ibn Sina, while others attribute more than two hundred. Nevertheless, Ibn Sina provided the world with knowledge that served many generations, and which is appreciated even today.

Malik Ibn Anas

Image imam MalikAbu Abdullah Malik Ibn Anas, the Shaikh of Islam, proof of the community, Imam of the abode emigration, knowledgeable scholar of Madinah (as predicted by the Prophet Muhammad [sa]) was born in Madinah in the year 714 CE, while his ancestral home was in Yemen.

Born in a well to do family Malik did not need to work. However, he was highly fascinated with the study of Islam, and ended up devoting his entire life to the study of Fiqh. He received his education in the most important seat of Islamic learning, Madinah. He also became one of the four major Mujtahid imams whose school filled North Africa, Al-Andalus, much of Egypt and some of Ash-Sham, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khurasan. Hence, Malik Ibn Anas was a Muslim legist who played an important role in formulating early Islamic legal doctrines.

One of the great achievements of Malik is a book Al-Muwatta (The Approved). This book was formed of sound narrations of the Prophet (sa) from the people of Hijaz together with the sayings of the companions, the followers, and those after them. He composed it in a course of forty years, having started with ten thousand narrations until he reduced them to their present number of fewer than two thousand. It was hailed by Ash-Shafi as the soundest book on earth after the Quran, nearest book on the earth after the Quran and the most beneficial book on earth after the Quran, according to four separate narrations. Malik said: “I showed my book to seventy jurists of Madinah, and every single one of them approved me for it, so I named it ‘The Approved’.”

Imam Malik is the connection of the entire Islamic community to the knowledge of the Sunnah as the scholars of the Prophet’s (sa) city, Madinah, preserved it. Like all scholars of Islam, Malik was famous for his piety and integrity. When the Governor of Madinah demanded and forced people to take the oath of allegiance to Khalifah Al-Mansoor, Imam Malik stood up courageously and was prepared to suffer for his convictions. He issued a Fatwa that such an oath was not binding because it was given under coercion and based his opinion on the Hadeeth narrated by Aisha (rta) “The divorce of the coerced does not take effect”. (Abu Dawood) This resulted in many people finding courage to express their opposition.

Malik had such veneration for the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) that he never narrated anything or gave a Fatwa unless in a state of ritual purity. Abi Uways said: “I asked my uncle about something. He made me sit, made ablution, sat on the couch, and said: La Hawla Wa La Quwwata Illa Billah. He did not give a Fatwa until he said it first. I heard Malik being asked forty-eight questions, to thirty-two of which he replied: ‘I do not know.’”

He was not only a great Muhaddith (Traditionist scholar of Hadeeth), but also a jurist who founded a Madhhab, or school of jurisprudence, which is named after him: the Maliki School of Islamic Jurisprudence. He gave lectures in law and religion in the Masjid of the Prophet (sa). People came from all over the Islamic world to learn from him and he attracted a considerable number of students. His followers came to be known as Malikis. He himself never left Madinah, and spent his whole life there in the cause of Islamic knowledge.

Imam Malik died in the year (179 AH) 796 CE at Madinah and is buried in the famous Al-Baqee cemetery in Madinah.